Community Engagement

At Buena Vista University, we believe students learn best and most by doing. With this goal in mind, the Community Engagement office serves as an excellent resource for students seeking experiential learning opportunities. The Office of Community Engagement serves as an excellent resource for students seeking experiential learning opportunities. Three full-time staff members and student advisory board, named Student MOVE, (Mobilizing, Outreach, Volunteer Efforts) assists individuals, groups, and faculty wanting to engage in service opportunities. Local, regional, national, and international volunteer opportunities help students realize the importance of civic responsibility and engagement.

The Office of Community Engagement is host to an AmeriCorps State program for which students interview and apply for positions. Annual events sponsored by Student MOVE include Service Events, Alternative Week of Off-site Learning (AWOL) program, which is our Alternative Spring Break Program, and much more. Each event pairs a volunteer experience with an opportunity for social interaction and skill development.

The Office of Community Engagement also sponsors the BV Buddies Mentoring Program. This student-lead program pairs a BVU student with a Storm Lake Middle School student for an entire academic year for participation in tutoring and enrichment activities. Also, the Education For Service Scholars program is housed out of the office that is a four-year developmental program that engages students in high impact practices through service. Annually, the universities most beloved campus tradition, Buenafication Day is hosted in the spring. Classes are not scheduled on this day and students go out into the community and volunteer. These experiences serve as the cornerstone of BVU, as are exemplified by our motto of Education for Service.

Faculty, staff, students and community partners established the following Civic Mission of the university:

“We provide students with intentionally diverse and purposeful experiences for civic learning, so students can become active and productive citizens. We do this by collaborating with community partners and through co-curricular and curricular engagement on a local, national, and international level.”

At Buena Vista, we use the following definitions to define Community Engagement:

“Working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes. In addition, civic engagement encompasses actions wherein individuals participate in activities of personal and public concern that are both individually life enriching and socially beneficial to the community” (Ehrlich, 2000).

Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrates evidence of adjustment in own attitudes and beliefs because of working within and learning from diversity of communities and cultures. Promotes others engagement with diversity.
  • Connects and extends knowledge (facts, theories, etc.) from one’s own academic study/field/ discipline to civic engagement and to one’s own participation in civic life, politics, and government.
  • Provides evidence of experience of experience in civic engagement activities and describes what she/he has learned about her or himself as to relates to a reinforced and clarified sense of civic identity and continued commitment to public action
  • Tailors communication strategies to effectively express, listen and adapt to others to establish relationship to further civic action.
  • Demonstrates independent experience and shows initiative in team leadership of complex or multiple civic engagement activities, accompanied by reflective insights or analysis about the aims and accomplishments of one’s actions.
  • Demonstrates ability and commitment to collaboratively work across and within community context and structures to achieve a civic aim.- AAC&U


BVU has received multiple awards for our commitment to community service. Our proudest accomplishment is being Carnegie Classified in Community Engagement.

presidents volunteer service award

Student M.O.V.E. was awarded a State of Iowa Governor's Volunteer Award in 2019.

We are also a proud member of Iowa Campus Compact.

icap logo